Instrument Approach Procedures in Class G airspace

Several airfields with ATZs in class G use instrument approach procedures (IAPs), which are designed to improve approach safety in poor weather, at night, etc.

However, these IAPs are frequently utilised during fine weather in daylight by commercial pilot training organisations as well as by commercial business jet operators. The view from most twin training aircraft and business jet cockpits is limited. Any operator utilising an IAP in class G is still required to maintain effective lookout, but that doesn’t always happen.  As a result, there are occurrences in any year where an aeroplane flying an IAP in class G encounters another aircraft operating perfectly legitimately in the same airspace maintaining lookout as required in class G. Although glider pilots are used to seeing other aircraft in close proximity, many aeroplane pilots will not be.

Guidance for all glider pilots

Where an airfield utilises an IAP, the VFR chart normally includes a ‘feathers’ symbol that radiates up the approach path. In most cases, the associated procedures are not obviously apparent from using a 1/2 mil VFR chart. Procedure details can be found in the AIP here under ‘Part 3 AD2 aerodromes’. Several airfields with an IAP use rebroadcast FLARM information for situational awareness. Those with radar can use transponder emissions.

To help to maintain safe airspace, if you cannot avoid and need to cross an instrument approach in class G, or fly overhead or close to an ATZ, plan to talk to the controller in good time providing details including your position and intention. That will help you and any traffic that may be using an instrument approach procedure to avoid a potential conflict.

By operating knowledgeably, safely and responsibly with all airspace stakeholders limitations in mind, we can all contribute to maintaining safe use of class G airspace.

There are some helpful airspace safety related resources here.